Andrew Hastie blasts Defence over publication of unsubstantiated allegation Australian soldiers killed Afghan children

Andrew Hastie blasts Defence over publication of unsubstantiated allegation Australian soldiers killed Afghan children.

Ben Packham:

Liberal MP and former special forces captain Andrew Hastie … [says publishing Crompvoets’ report] had delivered China an unnecessary propaganda win.

The allegation was not part of the Brereton war crimes report released two weeks ago, but a separate report by sociologist Samantha Crompvoets, which preceded the four-year inquiry by NSW Supreme Court judge Paul Brereton.

Samantha Crompvoets

On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry tweeted a meme by a Chinese artist that seized on the allegation, depicting an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child.

“The Crompvoets (report) detailed unproven rumours of Australian soldiers murdering Afghan children,” Mr Hastie told parliament on Thursday.

“It may have prompted the Brereton report, but its evidentiary threshold was far lower. The Brereton report neither rules these rumours in or out. So why are they in the open? It has undermined public confidence in the process and allowed the People’s Republic of China to malign our troops.”

Mr Hastie said the propaganda attack was “calculated, deliberate and designed to undermine the political and social cohesion of our country”.

“Australia is seeking to be honest and accountable for alleged wrongdoing by a small number of individuals entrusted to wear our flag,” he said. “We are owning our mistakes. This is in stark contrast to the People’s Republic of China.

Henry Ergas:

The purpose of [China’s] latest outrage was not so much to deceive as to humiliate. …

Having thus sped around the globe, the image of an Australian soldier allegedly slicing an Afghan child’s throat could have an enduring presence. As George Orwell put it in Nineteen Eighty-Four, “It was true that there was no such person as Comrade Ogilvy; but a couple of faked photographs would soon bring him into existence — and once the act of forgery was forgotten, he would exist just as authentically as Charlemagne or Julius Caesar.”

Yet the damage that might inflict on our reputation can hardly explain China’s actions. After all, it must have been apparent that the falsehood would immediately be exposed. And under normal circumstances, that should have deterred the fake image’s release or ensured that it occurred through a notionally separate media outlet whose conduct the Chinese authorities could readily disavow.

Instead, the tweet was issued by the Foreign Ministry, giving it official status. To make things worse, once the fraud was exposed, the Chinese, far from apologising, doubled down, compounding the offence.

Now, no one could regard unvarnished truthfulness as the master trait of diplomacy. But neither has vilifying a country with which one is at peace ever been considered acceptable behaviour. To brazenly engage in it, as the Chinese did, amounts to a calculated show of contempt.

Boasting of pretend weakness to earn politically correct virtue points could be very dangerous in this case.

A seasoned Asian diplomat interviewed by Tina Faulk:

China never acts simply out if pique. This was a carefully stage-managed escalation taking opportunistic advantage of a domestic situation that got out of hand.

The CCP is not out just to humiliate Australia. It is demonstrating to the ‘small dragons’ of South East Asia that if China can bring a western country like Australia to heel, it can do much more and worse, to them.

Australia’s “mistake,” if you will, was to make so much of what, in China would have been brushed under the table. To publicly name and shame Defence Force soldiers who were in Afghanistan by order of their own government, opened the way for China to retaliate, signalling clearly “you accused us of human rights violations – look in the mirror”.

The Prime Minister stumbled when he involved himself. It was better handled inside Defence. Morrison has asked China for an apology, which he won’t get because China doesn’t apologise — we saw that with Covid. …

To step back from this the Australian government must show the nation is behind it and speaks for the people. No kowtowing because China sees that as weakness and leads to greater demands, more concessions.

Augusto Zimmermann:

The Prime Minister of Australia has claimed that our defence forces serving in Afghanistan were murdering prisoners and innocent civilians.

Scott Morrison announced that he has apologised to the President of Afghanistan for the contents of a report he hadn’t even read.

The Prime Minister has denied our soldiers the presumption of innocence. He has shown to completely ignore the common-law principle that everyone is innocent until it can be proven otherwise.

As the member for Curtin Celia Hammond stated in a speech to the Federal Parliament on Monday:

“We must avoid at all costs a situation where our defence forces are universally demonised. They are individual men and women who serve and sacrifice for us. Ultimately, it must never be us-versus-them because they are us”.

Michael Yon:

My gut instinct: The allegations are lawfare designed to target Australia and the Aussie military, who are famously disciplined.

I’ve seen this sort of lawfare against British and Americans.

Take this instance … British Soldiers were on a mission in Basra and got into a long and sustained firefight. Dozens of enemy were killed.

Leftwing lawyer-squad later attacked the British Soldiers saying they had committed war crimes during the mission. Bullshit. … I was on that mission. Thousands of rounds were fired. Enemy and British were exchanging heavy fire and it went on and on. British kicked their tails. And I was there the entire time and witnessed nothing that remotely appeared to be a war crime. My photos and narrative are here.

Later came the allegations.

NOBODY from any side reached out to me.  I was the only witness who was not Iraqi, or a British Soldier.  I had tons of photos never published that I would have supplied to British court and I would have sworn in writing that I saw no war crime. …

I’ve witnessed a lot of war, and some war stupidity, and tons of courage and professionalism, but no war crimes from Americans or from British. Nobody asked me about those false allegations against the British.

Why? Leftwing enemies are trying to destroy the United Kingdom and their military, and the Aussies, the Canadians, and Japanese.

See also Afghanistan: The Fevered Imaginations of the REMFs.

hat-tip Stephen Neil